By Leslie James

This fall Pikes Peak Community College continues over 16 years of partnership with the Pikes Peak Library District’s program, All Pikes Peak Reads (APPR), a city-wide book club that brings  the Colorado Springs community together with students at PPCC. While reading the book selection, students can also attend live performances and participate in student art and writing contests centered around the selected text.

This year’s choice, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, by Anna Deavere Smith represents interviews of those who had personal experiences in the Rodney King race riots of 1992. Police, witnesses, victims, and family members of Rodney King were interviewed and represented in a Broadway play, available at the PBS website, which was later adapted for the book.

Smith’s emotional book is also the theme of this semester’s theatre/dance production brought to you by the Art and Theatre Department of PPCC. Showings will be held Nov. 30th through Dec. 2nd at PPCC Centennial Campus Theatre A120. The performance is a representation of the people involved in the Rodney King riots through real, dramatic monologues. Admission is free with a donation of canned goods to Care and Share, a local food bank.

The student art contest is hosted by Professor Jared Benson, titled Whitewashing, Murals, or Graffiti: Painting Narratives. He is the APPR Coordinator for the Pikes Peak Region, and an instructor of Humanities and History at PPCC and UCCS.

Students from both PPCC and UCCS compete together through various submissions of poetry, essays, multimedia and musical art. The contest is a chance for students to research accounts of the Rodney King riots and represent their personal reactions through art forms. The prizes of winning the contest are a Kindle Fire and publication through PPCC’s Parley.

Steps to participate and help with inspiration for submissions are located below. Also, see key excerpts from the book, prompt questions and specific guidelines for submissions here.

Submission deadline for the contest is Nov. 19th via email here.

An all-event calendar for APPR and PPCC up-comings can be found online at here including the play, an illustrated reading of Twilight, Los Angeles, 1992 and APPR Showcase of Talent.

Dawn Bergacker, Reference and Instruction Librarian at PPCC is part of the Outreach and Engagement program that encourages the community to attend events hosted by PPCC. She said the library is a common area for students working towards various degrees to work and connect.

APPR connects students and teachers with the community through what is called Common Intellectual Experience which is also under the category of High Impact Practices, in which students can collaborate through their course material, and are able to experiment with ideas outside of class assignments.

Bergacker said the contest, fronted by Benson, is “A great way for students to broaden their focus from class assignments to out-of-class experiences.”

Students are recognized by the school and the community for participating in the contest.

The community of Colorado Springs hears about PPCC students and APPR programs through the First Friday art gallery openings in the downtown area. The college is also advertised at the Penrose Public Library to spread the word of events at PPCC.

The showcase of the arts: Painting Narratives was held Friday, Oct. 6th, at PPCC Downtown Campus. Residents of Colorado Springs saw the local musician/activist and live painters, Kevin Mitchell & Friends. Community members and students responded in the survey following the end of the show case with very positive reviews.

The community is becoming more involved every year with PPCC in correlation to APPR. Bergacker commented on the program as being another way for students to succeed in their college experience.

Students are invited to hear illustrated readings of the text and are encouraged to share their own reactions/responses through the contest in any art form they wish.

Students of U.S. History and Communications will perform a dramatic reading of original accounts. Twilight Tulsa, 1921, Race Riots in Earlier America: A Search for Meaning will be held at Rampart Range campus in the Library (N201) on Dec. 6th from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Cal Otto was previously the leader of APPR, but since he is now deceased, the focus of the program has changed. In the past, the program would have one selected text for the whole community, now there are selected texts for every age group.

The program reaches out to a large part of the community, which is important for students who are eager to discuss matters outside of class with those in the reading community.

This spring, the APPR meeting consisted of approximately 40 people, including Bergacker and Janele Johnson, Chair of Literature Department, who are the voices for PPCC’s decision of the text.

Johnson said, “We hope to have a more weighted voice in the choice of text at the committee meeting next year.”

Johnson’s hopes are for APPR’s chosen texts to be relevant for English, Literature and History classes, intentions for connections to course materials. Studying the texts in class will help students become avid in sharing ideas with the community readers by expanding discussions outside of the classroom. Connections made between college students and the community will expose the diversity of reactions from in-class and in real life.

For the 2018 Spring Semester, look out for the featured text as it may be related to course assignments, and a pathway to connect with other readers in the community. All PPCC events are open to the public and encourage students to attend as well.

For more information about APPR contact,, or